The Government Shutdown and Immigration

Gridlock in Washington has resulted in the first shutdown of non-essential government functions since 1995. This will have direct and substantial consequences on the processing of a variety of temporary and permanent immigration petitions – as well as the visa issuing functions of U.S. Consulates worldwide.

Department of Labor: the functions of DOL in connection with immigration matters are considered non-essential and will cease throughout the shutdown! DOL will not accept (1) Requests for Prevailing Wage Determinations (2) Labor Condition Applications essential to the filing of H-1B (and E-3 Visas for Australian citizens) or (3) PERM Labor Certification applications.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services: most of the functions of USCIS are supported by filing fees so the Service will not experience a complete shutdown like DOL. However, additional delays in the processing of cases are to be expected.

E-Verify: these services are shut down. Employers will NOT be able to access their E-Verify account. USCIS has announced that employers will NOT be held to the “three-day rule” for verification but will be still be expected to execute Form I-9 within three days of hiring.

EOIR (Immigration Court): the Court is affected by the shutdown. The Court will likely continue to process only matters involving detained cases.

Customs and Border Protection: border security is considered an essential function and the processing of arriving travelers will continue. However, slowdowns and delays are expected.

Department of State: DOS is affected by the shutdown and will limit operations at visa issuing posts to “life and death” situations. This will perhaps represent the most drastic impact on individuals and the U.S. employers dependent on their services should they find themselves outside the U.S. and in need of a visa to return.

We are committed to making the best of a bad situation and will, to the extent possible on a case by case basis, explore any possible alternatives to help our clients achieve their goals.

Please feel free to contact our office if you have any questions.